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Horns fall to Toppers but defeat North

November 21, 2018

Blake Atwood 11 scores against SH
JC’s Blake Atwood (11) spits two Toppers to score a 3-point play. Atwood had 18 points in their 71-64 loss. Photo by Tameula Trivett


By Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor
[email protected]

Johnson County was within a stone throw of taking down Goliath-size Science Hill but couldn’t connect with the fatal stone down the stretch. The Longhorns hung with the Toppers the entire way before falling 71-64 on Friday in front of a large crowd inside Ray Shoun Gymnasium. The Longhorns led 37-35 at the half but hit a tough stretch in the final quarter. Head coach Austin Atwood was happy with their effort.

“I thought we played well and our kids played hard,” said Atwood. “We didn’t stand around; plus we shot the ball well. Gavin Reece and Lucas Phillips knocked down some big shots for us. If they keep doing that we can play with teams. I felt like we outplayed them at times and could have won the game if we had made 80 percent of our free throws. I’m disappointed that we didn’t finish.”

Johnson County’s Blake Atwood set the tone early by scoring the game’s first five points including a dunk. A pair of treys by Lucas Phillips and one from Gavin Reece enabled the Horns to stay close in the quarter.

They trailed 17-14  after one
The Longhorns didn’t back down from there getting a couple of treys by Reece to tie the game at 20. The lead swapped hands four times in the frame before baskets by Troy Arnold, and Zack Eller would push their advantage to five. The Horns held off a late Toppers’ rally and led 37-35 at intermission. Science Hill stepped up its pressure defense in the third quarter, but the Horns had an answer. They went to the inside getting six points from Michael Oxentine and four more from Troy Arnold. Science Hill went on a 7-1 run that helped them build a 59-54 advantage heading into the fourth, and they would double it thanks to some poor shooting by the Longhorns.

The Horns misfired on eight straight shots allowing the Toppers to widen the margin by an even dozen. Johnson County battled back to get within five on a pair of Atwood baskets and a couple more from Arnold but couldn’t get any closer. Atwood led the Longhorns with 18 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds. Reece added 14 points including three treys and three steals. Arnold collected 12 points and ten rebounds.

“I’m happy with our overall play but displeased that we didn’t execute down the stretch,” added Atwood. “That’s what upsets me the most.”

Johnson County 66
Sullivan North 52
A tired Johnson County squad finally found its legs again in the second half to knock off Sullivan North by 14 after playing back-to-back games. They Longhorns trailed 10-9 after one but fought back to take a 16-12 lead on a three-point play from Zack Eller to start the second quarter. The Longhorns hit 12-of-16 free throws in the first half that helped them build a 28-22 halftime advantage. Johnson County began to widen its lead in the third quarter and at one point led by a dozen. They held a 43-33 advantage going into the fourth.

Any thoughts of a Golden Raiders’ comeback were erased early in the final quarter. Baskets from Atwood and Phillips would push the lead to 15, and a pair of free throws by Reece gave them their largest cushion at 17. North outscored the Longhorns bench by five over the final two minutes of the game, but the damage was during the first six. The Longhorns scored 25 points in the frame, and the closest that North got was 10. Atwood blistered the nets for 25 points to lead the Horns. Phillips provided 13 and Oxentine collected 10. Eller and Reece tallied six apiece. Evan Bishop and Zack Scott topped North with 16 and 12 points respectively. The Longhorns are now 1-1.

Gavin Reece 34 drains a 3 against North
JC’s Gavin Reece (34) connects on a three-point shot versus Sullivan North. The Longhorns won the contest 66-52. Photo by Tameula Trivett